Lizard and Dragonfly Inlay for Recent 12 inch Open Back Banjo

I was recently asked to do a dragonfly and lizard inlay on a peghead and a heel cap:

Here are a few photos from the process:

Starting with a complete shell:

Cutting from a complete shell.

Mother of pearl shell.

You’ll notice that I’m cutting this from a complete shell. This is only because I particularly liked this piece of pearl. You can obtain flat blanks nicely thicknessed to size. They make life a lot easier.

You can no longer import mother of pearl from the US due to various conservation and environmental restrictions. This shell has already had the rough outer bark removed and has been polished. Due to the curvature of the surface, the size of the blanks you can cut from this is limited.

A little bore hole

A little bore hole

While on the seabed, the shells can fall prey to boring creatures so the pearl needs to be inspected for these, and worked around when cutting.

Cutting out the dragonfly wing

Cutting out the dragonfly wing

Above you can see where the pearl has been cut for the dragonfly wing.

For the lizard, a small piece of the shell was covered with masking tape and the lizard was drawn on and then cut out using a very fine bladed piercing saw. His toes were cleaned up with small files.

It was then marked out on the heel cap and then a lizard shaped recess was routed and the lizard was fitted and glued. The small red line you can see between the ebony and the walnut on the heel cap is African blood wood.

For details about commissions, please visit the banjo commissions page for details of how I work, or get in touch.

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